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Thread: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    The Garden State
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    Default Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    I have been around a few over the years. Growing up a friend of mine used to spend every summer aboard a 33 foot "Margarita", and tied up in the slip next to them was a 29 foot "Sport Skiff" and there as even a 'glass Concorde in the same marina.

    Except for their brief foray into 'glass boats, most Owens were build of mahogany plywood and were not too bad to look at. Yet they never seem to catch the eye of those looking for a good classic wooden boat.

    I even found this one still floating in Atlantic City yesterday.

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    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Southern Maine
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    21,850

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    Katherine was restoring one when she first came on this board. I don't know whether she ever finished it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Seattle, WA
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    5,194

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    My amateur opinion, but I think that none of those 1960s express cruisers get much respect. Even the Chris Crafts of that vintage are, for the most part, less desirable than the earlier bullnose designs. The later boats have less varnish, cheaper finishes and materials, and generally seem less like small yachts and a bit more disposable. Also their main line of plywood boats is always going to be less interesting and less valued than a similar planked boat like a Chris Craft, Richardson, Hunter, etc.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Mukilteo, Washington
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    451

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    I have quite a fondness for the late 60's and 70's small wood cruisers, spending most of my childhood summers on one. We boated with a couple families that owned Owens boats, in fact my best friends family had a 37' aft cabin Owens (Tahitian?) that seemed massive back in the day. Owen's, Fairliners, Grandy's, Chris Crafts, Shepard's, Vikings, Egg Harbor, Pacemakers. Dad was always a Trojan man. Recently digitized boxes of old slides so been re-living that era again.
    Our trojan, pulled out on the Snohomish river where we'd paint and prep for the season.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    N.E. Connecticut.
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    7,103

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    Early years Owens were good, properly built boats. I don’t think I would put them too far off from Chris Crafts of the day.
    About 1956 – 57 they changed to a lightly built plywood construction that really changed their image. Their plywood boats of the late 50’s and much of the 60’s were extremely lightly framed boats with very light scantlings. I suppose these boats were ok “entry level protected waters and lake boats”. They just were not boats for long term ownership or any serious conditions. When you open the engine hatch and look in the bilge you see large expanses of plywood with no framing at all, and the plywood was fairly light. These boats were also subject to rotting just sort of all over the place. I can’t say I remember any problematic areas in particular, because they would just have issues all over.





    Their 1960’s top tier boats such as the Tahitian were double planked mahogany hulls. I suppose on paper these were intended to be solid well build boats (maybe on a par with Chris Craft again). Unfortunately, in real life their choice of construct had some real flaws.
    Like Chris Craft, Owens used a double planked bottom which was fine. The problem was that Owens also used a similar double planked construction on the topsides. Owens also used an odd planking schedule on the top sides. Rather than spiling and lining off the planking in a conventional manner, Owens used planks of one width over their length. This resulted in the planks running up to and out of the shear line from the forward windshield to the stem. There was no continuous shear plank from transom to stem. This planking schedule resulted in all end grain showing along the shear from the forward windshield to the stem.
    Whenever the deck to hull seam started to fail and leak on these Owens water could start to get in. The end grain of the planking would soak up water and lead to rot along the shear up forward. Also, when water started getting in that hull to deck seam up forward it would get into the cotton muslin used in the double planking, where it would wick way down the sides of the boat between the layers of planking. It was common to see the forward topsides so rotted out on these double planked Owens that you could literally put your finger completely through the hull. That mahogany-muslin-mahogany combination, with just a bit of fresh rain water seeping down periodically in the warm summers created an absolutely perfect environment for rot.
    Just my observations over 50+ years.


  6. #6

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    I restored 50% of an owens 45 ft,tsmy , reclaimer 1945,in 1984 at twickenham on the thames,
    Last edited by peter radclyffe; 08-06-2021 at 01:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
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    20,110

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    I had a 19 plywood Owens in 1970, twin Johnson 40s. 16 years old . Gaw we had fun it that boat. Using a gas station map to navigate the Thimble Islands, which was a place I had never been to and had no idea ...
    Me and my bud are flying along one day 30 mph, suddenly she rolls to one side, mine, almost pops me into the jellyfishes.... pull throttles ... half of the fiberglass sheathing had leggo from the bow and ripped aft, hanging on the back three feet of the boat.Almost flipped .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
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    10,762

    Default Re: Why don't Owen's boats get respect?

    My parents first boat was a 1959 Owens Flagship. Ply hull. Perfect boat for inland boating on the Mississippi, etc. Simple to maintain for the lay person. Certainly not built to Chris Craft's Connie line or many other makes ... more akin to their Cavalier division cruisers. But I am fond of the Cavalier division.
    Nothing else matters but how I raise my children ... and their opinion of me, as a father.

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